“Don’t wander off, Baz,” Jason said as they walked towards the river. It was a quiet day, early in the afternoon. There was little chance for trouble, but Jason would rather be careful anyway. As teens, the triplets – especially Baz – were itching to roam around freely, but this was one thing that Jason and Shannyn actually agreed on. They hadn’t let Kayne come and go as he pleased until he was sixteen.
Or, well, Shannyn hadn’t and I’d gone along with it, he amended.
Baz moved in closer to the group and let out a put-upon sigh. “It’s not like there’s anything to do anyway.”
“We are going to do something – we’re going fishing,” Jason said brightly. How he longed for the old days; even before the Event, he’d enjoyed fishing. He wished he could take the kids out on the boat, teach them the different kinds of bait, even just go to the fishing spot he’d grown up around.
“I hate fishing,” Myrcella said quietly as they approached the bank of the river.
“I know.” His little girl had cried the first time she’d caught a fish worth keeping. “You’ve got to know – “
“How to feed myself,” she finished with a slight smile. “I know, Dad.” She picked up her rod and cast her line.
“If Kayne doesn’t have to be here,” Baz said sulkily, “we shouldn’t either.” Quinn shot him a quick look before picking up his own fishing rod. “What?”
Jason’s jaw tightened. “When you’re eighteen, you can opt out too,” he said. Really, Kayne had stopped coming along on these trips long before the age of eighteen. He had the patience for fishing – Shannyn, actually, had taught him all about patience – he just didn’t care about it.
And if Jason tried to tell him to do it? Ha! The kid hadn’t listened to him since he was in diapers. Shannyn got just what she wanted with him, didn’t she? Ever since she’d gotten Kayne to call him “Jaja” instead of “Dada” he’d known what he was in for. She didn’t want him to be a father to Kayne; she wanted the kid’s loyalty to go to some dead guy he’d never even met.
Careful, Jason, your bitterness is showing.
He baited his hook with a piece of fresh strawberry and cast his line. No matter what, he loved Kayne. As far as he was concerned, that was his son just as much as Baz and Quinn. That was why it hurt so much that Kayne had never seemed to see him as a parent.
Besides his own personal feelings though, he was worried about Kayne. The boy was so much like Shannyn, and he knew he was on board with her plans for him. He was going to become the Oracle – whatever that was. Some big boss for hitmen or something. The idea of Kayne out there killing people – it scared the piss out of Jason. Not just over Kayne’s safety, but what that life was going to do to Kayne’s head. Jason couldn’t help but wonder how much humanity would be left inside of the boy in a few years.
His troubled thoughts plagued him the remainder of the afternoon. It was a bright, pleasant day that he should’ve enjoyed, but it might as well have been the dead of night for all he noticed it. He finally called the fishing trip to an end and walked the kids home.
After the triplets were all inside, he made a quick run around the neighborhood to hand out the extra fish. They’d had a good day today; they had enough for Shannyn to trade some at the market tonight and give some away. Over time, their neighbors had learned that he wasn’t like Shannyn and were happy to accept his aid, which he was thankful for. His leads to help the town always seemed to come up short, so it was nice to actually be able to do something to help people.
When he returned home, he found Myrcella reading, as she often was. Quinn was scribbling into a notebook, no doubt working on the math work Jason had made up for him. And Kayne and Baz were just stepping off of the stairs in their work out clothes.
“What are you two up to?”
“We’re going running,” Kayne said. “It’ll be good for the twerp to exercise after doing a whole lot of standing and doing nothing all day.”
A muscle in Jason’s jaw twitched. “Well, you know the rules. Stay close and don’t separate.”
Baz rolled his eyes and walked outside with Kayne. “Yes, Dad.” In a muttered voice, he said, “Can you believe him? It’s like we’re five or something.”
Jason let out a deep sigh and went to the computer. Before he could get to work on his project, he needed to write an article for work. Because the (rigged) mayoral election was just what everyone cared about. (Spoiler alert: the same guy from the last eighteen years won.)
One day, I’ll make a difference, he thought. I can’t fix corrupt politics, but I will do something.